Why You Should Elope in Alaska
If Alaska isn’t on your list of potential places to elope, you’ll want to add it after this article. Alaska is the largest state within the United States, but surprisingly, it’s often overlooked and not thought of as an elopement destination, even though it truly has it all. If you’re looking for a jaw dropping wedding destination filled with gigantic mountains, stunning wildlife, ever-growing wildflowers, serene wildlife, and so much more, look no further because Alaska is the place for you.
Within this guide, I included everything you need to know about how to elope in Alaska, including how to get a marriage license, the best places to elope in Alaska, and even Alaska elopement packages from an Alaska elopement photographer. Let’s get into it!
How to Get a Marriage License in Alaska
In order to get a marriage license in Alaska, you’ll need to submit an application to the Bureau of Vital Statistics either by mail or in-person. The cost of the marriage license is $60, and it’s only valid for three months after you receive it.
The marriage license takes three business days to be ready after you submit your application, and longer by mail (sometimes up to a month), so keep that in mind!
To see all the information and everything you need to know about obtaining a marriage license in Alaska, check out the official site here.
Do I Need an Officiant and Witness to Get Married in Alaska?
Yes, you will need two witnesses and an officiant in order to elope in Alaska. You can hire an ordained officiant in Alaska, or you can even have a friend or family member serve as your officiant. The ordination process is super easy and can be done online.
Best Places to Elope in Alaska
As an Alaska elopement photographer, I can tell you that Alaska is filled with some of the most beautiful places in the world! For this section of the article, I broke up Alaska into five different sections (Southeast, Southcentral, Southwest, Interior, and Northern Alaska) to make it a bit easier to choose your dream elopement location.
Best Places to Elope in Southeast Alaska (Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan)
Mendenhall Glacier is a very popular location and one of the best places to elope in Alaska. Located near Juneau, this jaw dropping glacier stretches over 13 miles long and is located within the Tongass National Forest that has numerous hiking trails and waterfalls for your elopement.
Gastineau Peak is a 4 miles hike just outside of Juneau. There are a variety of different lookout points and wildflowers along the trail. It’s a perfect location for couples looking for wide open spaces with surrounding hills and mountains. The Sound of Music, anyone?
Best Places to Elope in Southcentral Alaska (Anchorage, Seward, Homer, Girdwood)
Turnagain View Lodge
Turnagain View Lodge is a quiet wedding venue located right on the Turnagain Arm near Anchorage. The lodge borders the Chugach State Park and offers 360 degree mountain views. It’s the perfect off-grid wedding venue that’s still close to Anchorage if you want to explore the city.
Grewingk Glacier Lake
If you’re looking for a crystal clear lake backed with an iconic Alaska glacier, look no further and elope at Grewingk Glacier Lake. There are panoramic views all around the lake and is one of the best places to elope in Alaska if you’re looking for something secluded. The hike to the lake is 12 miles roundtrip, but it’s well worth it and often a favorite hike in Alaska.
Hatcher Pass is probably the most popular elopement location in Alaska, but it’s no surprise why. With over 50 miles to be explored, I can guarantee that you’ll find an epic spot to exchange your vows. There are mountains, rolling hills, luscious green grass, and the famous red cabins that look stunning in photos.
Best Places to Elope in Southwest Alaska (King Salmon, Kodiak, Bethel)
North Sister Backside
North Sister Backside is extremely similar to Monashka. It has a variety of different sceneries and environments for your Alaska wedding. The only thing difference I notice is the mountain view. North Sister Backside has a few large mountains and hills that are very green. The look at the top is very similar to the views of Hawaii. Like Monashka, this is also another trail that’s 3.4 miles roundtrip.
The hike to Tanalian Falls is about 6 miles roundtrip and takes most people about an hour to reach the falls. If you’re looking for that perfect waterfall backdrop for your ceremony or couples portraits, this is the location for you. The falls can be quite crowded during the busy months in Alaska, but it is possible to have the falls all to yourself during certain times.
If you’re looking for a forest, lake, and mountain view all in one, Monashka Mountain is the place to elope for you. The trail is 4.4 miles roundtrip and can be pretty steep at times, but don’t let that deter you from checking this place out. Not only will your location be unforgettable, but you’ll get some pretty epic photos up there as well.
Best Places to Elope in Interior Alaska (Denali National Park, Fairbanks)
If you’re looking for an epic mountain view with wide open fields, Gorge Creek is the place to be. Located in Denali National Park, Gorge Creek has a few trails that run through through the mountains. In the early spring and winter, the mountains are covered in snow but bloom with luscious greens during the summer months.
Denali National Park
Alaska is home to the largest national parks in the United States, and Denali just so happens to be the third. With over 4 million acres, you’re guaranteed to find that perfect spot for your elopement. There are thousands of different hiking trails and sceneries for your special day. Plus, there are a variety of waterfalls, wildlife, and wildflowers too! This spot is definitely one of the best places to elope in Alaska.
Byers Lake is located right off one of the major highways, but it can also be accessed by an 8 mile roundtrip hike that offers some pretty incredible views. Mountains surround the entire lake and make you feel super small (in the best way). The lake is located right on the border of Denali, and there are also various campgrounds nearby.
Best Places to Elope in Northern Alaska (Kobuk, Nome, Barrow)
Chandalar Shelf Ridge
The Chandalar Shelf Ridge Trail is a 4.8 mile roundtrip trail, but you don’t need to walk that far to see the gorgeous mountain ranges. The landscape looks very similar to Iceland. The ground is a swirl of all different types of reds and browns, and the mountains are covered in snow. It’s a beautiful place and will make you feel like you’re getting married on Mars!
Don’t be surprised by the name. While Finger Mountain does look like a finger, it’s actually not a mountain, but instead a wide broad hill. The area on top of the hill is pretty flat and doesn’t provide you with the well-known Alaskan mountain range, but it’s still a great area if you’re looking for something more simple and open.
Sheenjek Aufeis is a simple river up north right near Fort Yukon. The river travels hundreds of miles, giving you endless options of scenery for your elopement. The river is bordered by forests, mountains, and flat land. It has everything you need for your elopement if you’re looking for some variety up north.
Alaska Weather – When is the Best Time of Year to Elope in Alaska?
Alaska doesn’t really have four seasons. Instead, they have a summer and winter. Keep in mind that the temperatures vary greatly depending on where you decide to tie the knot since the state is so big.
The summer, specifically the very beginning and very end, is hands-down the best time to elope in Alaska. Peak season for travel to Alaska is between mid-June to mid-August and should be avoided if you want to skip the crowds. The best two months to elope in Alaska are May and September. The weather will not only be nice, but the prices will be cheap and you’ll still be able to experience the beauty of Alaska without all the tourists.
In the summer, you’ll come across fields of wildflowers, an abundance of wildlife, peak waterfalls, and colorful leaves.
Summer also has the most amount of daylight. Tons of areas get a whopping 18 hours of daylight and don’t have sunsets until 11pm. Even then, the sun doesn’t really ever dip below the horizon.
If you’re dreaming of a snowy elopement, winter is the perfect time for you. Winter happens to be the longest season with the shortest amount of daylight. For your Alaska wedding, you might be looking at about 5 hours of light for your day.
With a huge amount of snow, Alaska is perfect for winter sports, cozy cabin fires, and enchanting snow pictures. You can also experience the northern lights during the winter if you’re lucky.
February and March are the best times to visit Alaska in the winter. Not only will you get the beautiful snow, but temperatures will be a bit more bearable and the hours of daylight start increasing.
How Much Does an Alaska Elopement Cost?
According to The Knot, the average cost of a wedding in Alaska is $17,361, which is half of what the cost of a wedding is in almost every other state. This is due to the small guest lists, as many people who get married in Alaska tend to elope!
To get an idea of what you want your own budget to look like for your Alaska elopement, I put together three different budget ideas to help you decide what you’re willing to spend for your elopement.
High-End Alaska Elopement
- $600 – plane tickets
- $60 – marriage license
- $100 – location permit
- $2,000 – three nights at a luxury resort
- $6,500 – photographer
- $700 – florist for bouquet and decor
- $3,000 – dress, accessories, and shoes
- $300 – hair and makeup
- $800 – suit, accessories, and shoes
- $1,500 – helicopter tour around Alaska
- $500 – private chef
- TOTAL: $16,060
Mid-End Alaska Elopement
- $600 – plane tickets
- $60 – marriage license
- $100 – location permit
- $1,000 – three nights at a 3-star hotel
- $4,500 – photographer
- $400 – florist for bouquet and light decor
- $1,500 – dress, accessories, and shoes
- $200 – hair and makeup
- $500 – suit, accessories, and shoes
- $600 – wildlife excursion
- TOTAL: $9,460
Low-End Alaska Elopement
- $600 – plane tickets
- $60 – marriage license
- $100 – location permit
- $500 – three nights at a simple hotel/airbnb
- $2,500 – photographer
- $200 – florist for bouquet
- $700 – dress, accessories, and shoes
- $100 – hair and makeup (or free if done yourself)
- $300 – suit (rented)
- TOTAL: $5,060
As you can see, there are a variety of different budgets and areas you can spend more or less on for your elopement. Keep in mind that these are not exact quotes of numbers for an elopement, but instead, some ideas and suggestions! The sky is the limit!
Alaska Elopement Checklist
#1: Book Your Vendors
You’re probably thinking… “book my vendors first?” Yes, book your vendors first, specifically your Alaska elopement photographer. Many elopement photographers, including myself, offer location scouting, permit assistance, vendor recommendations, and a ton of other perks in their Alaska elopement packages.
#2: Choose Your Elopement Location
Before you decide to do anything else, choose your location. The sooner you choose a location, the sooner you can book everything else such as your lodging, flights, etc. If you need help choosing your location, ask your photographer if they offer location scouting in their packages.
#3: Book Your Lodging, Flights, and Activities
If you’re flying into Alaska, you’ll probably fly into Anchorage, Juneau, Fairbanks, or Ketchikan. I recommend booking your flights, lodging, and activities sooner rather than later, especially in the summer. Options can become very limited (and expensive) if you wait until the last second.
#4: Get Your Marriage License and Permits
Before your big day you need to make sure you have your marriage license and necessary permits to get married. Check out the section in this article that goes over everything you need to know about getting a marriage license in Alaska. Make sure to get any necessary permits as well, especially if you’re shooting in a national or state park. Not doing so can result in a cancellation of your wedding and hefty fines!
#5: Get Married and Celebrate
Now this is the part you’ve been waiting for. Now that the day is here, it’s time to celebrate! Take a second to soak it in and enjoy the scenery. I mean, how can you not when you’re in Alaska?
Alaska Elopement Timeline Examples
Are you curious as to how much coverage you need for your Alaska elopement? Check out a few of these timeline ideas to get some inspiration. In a place like Alaska, I recommend booking no less than 6 hours. This will allow you to truly take everything in and enjoy your special day without the rush.
6 Hour Elopement Timeline
- 4:00pm – ceremony starts at a secluded spot in Denali National Park with friends and family
- 4:30pm – family portraits and couples pictures within the forest
- 5:30pm – head to your resort for a private dinner
- 7:00pm – dinner ends and the couple sneaks away for some portraits at a nearby waterfall
- 7:30pm – pictures begin
- 8:30pm – pictures end, head back to the resort for fire and toasts by the mountains
- 10:00pm – Brianna leaves
8 Hour Elopement Timeline
- 12:00pm – getting ready pictures in an off-the-grid cabin in Alaska
- 1:00pm – leave for Hatcher Pass to get some epic portraits and do a first look
- 2:00pm – head towards Seward to explore the town and get some lunch at a local restaurant
- 3:30pm – helicopter flight to a private glacier for your intimate ceremony
- 4:00pm – begin epic ceremony
- 4:30pm – ceremony ends and couples portraits begin
- 5:00pm – head back to the cabin for letter reading from family members
- 5:30pm – arrive at the cabin and begin letter reading with reaction pictures
- 6:00pm – finish letter reading and start making an intimate dinner and dessert
- 8:00pm – Brianna leaves
12 Hour Elopement Timeline
- 9:00am – getting ready pictures in an Airbnb right next to a lake
- 10:00am – first look with your partner right next to the lake
- 10:30am – we head out to get some portraits in Denali National Park
- 11:30pm – romantic picnic next to the beautiful waterfall within the park
- 1:00pm – catch an hour flight to Fairbanks for your ceremony
- 2:15pm – arrive in Fairbanks and head to the resort where you meet up with family
- 2:45pm – ceremony begins by a nearby mountain in Fairbanks
- 3:15pm – family portraits and couples portraits
- 4:00pm – head back to the resort where dinner from a private chef is awaiting you
- 5:30pm – sneak away for a small hike up the mountain pass to get gorgeous images and a moment to yourselves
- 6:30pm – fire gets started next to a lake with your loved ones where you toast and eat smores
- 9:00pm – Brianna leaves
Alaska Elopement Ideas
Alaska is filled with tons of excursions and activities you can do for your wedding. Here are just a few ideas to help get you started.
- Bear viewing tour
- See the Northern Lights
- Rent a private ship for fishing or an intimate dinner
- Flight-seeing tour on a helicopter
- Kayaking or rafting tour
- Dog sledding
- Local food tour
- Daily cruise within a glacier passage
- Go waterfall hopping
- Ride the Alaskan railway
- Go whale watching
- Soak in the hot springs
- Winter sports – skiing, snowboarding, etc.
Alaska Elopement Packages
Convinced to get married in Alaska yet? If you are, check out this Alaska elopement package below to get an idea of what’s included for your elopement. I’m an Alaska elopement photographer who helps couples all around the world plan epic elopements all around the U.S. and internationally. To see more package options, or packages for areas other than Alaska, check out my pricing!
Alaska Elopement Pricing Guide
- 6 hours – 2 days of elopement coverage in any area of Alaska
- A hands-on Alaska elopement planning experience with unlimited assistance
- personalized locations and questionnaires
- vendor recommendations
- permit assistance
- customized elopement timeline
- Online gallery with full resolution and printing rights
- 24-48 hour sneak peak images from your Alaska elopement
- Travel fees to ANYWHERE in Alaska are already included
- Starting at $6,500
It costs $60 to elope in Alaska. The $60 fee is from the marriage license. However, if you want to have a higher-end elopement, expect to pay around $10,000.
It takes three business days to get your marriage license in Alaska if you get it in person, but it can take up to 4 weeks if you mail it.
As long as they are ordained, anyone older than 18 years old can marry you in Alaska.
A marriage license costs $60 in Alaska.
You can elope almost anywhere in Alaska as long as you have a marriage license and the necessary permits. Popular spots to elope in Alaska include Denali National Park, Juneau, and Anchorage.
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I’m Brianna, a California elopement photographer who inspires, encourages, and empowers couples to push traditional boundaries and create experiences they’ll remember forever.